I hope that everyone is well. It’s been a little while since I sent a Covid update and given recent announcements it felt like now was the right time.
School leaders in Stockport have received guidance on the likely spread of the Omicron variant and what this means for schools. In this update I’ll cover what I know and what we are doing as a school to try to keep things going as normally as possible
1) The spread of Omicron
The information we have received reinforces the suggestion that this variant of covid is spreading very rapidly. It is likely that as of today the variant is not all that common in Stockport, but that this will change soon and cases will rise.
At school level we have not yet seen any marked rise in cases. In fact, in the past three weeks the average rate of cases amongst students has fallen. However, we must not be complacent and have been advised to make some changes to our covid plans to try limit the spread.
2) Covid measures in school
Some things are changing as a result of the need to protect against this new variant:
All adults have been reminded of the need to be distanced from each other and from students. This means that teachers must stay at the front of rooms and Learning support assistants cannot offer one to one support.
All classroom windows and doors will be open, regardless of the weather. Good ventilation is the best protection against Omicron. I spoke to students in a virtual assembly yesterday morning about how they can keep warm, and reminded them that the core expectation of shirt, tie and blazer has never changed.
Some events are being altered or cancelled. For example, some of my assemblies are going online. We are not yet cancelling every event and hope not to get to that stage.
Unless exempt I have remined students of the need to wear ‘masks on the move’. Again as I said in assembly, we are not yet bringing back masks in classrooms.
All other in school covid measures are staying the same for now
Any vaccinated member of staff and person under the age of 18 who is identified as a contact of someone with Covid, whatever the variant, must now do lateral flow tests for 7 days before leaving the house each morning, MORE ON THIS BELOW
3) Self isolation rules
As you know school no longer does contact tracing for positive cases as this role is carried out by the national Test and Trace system. There are changes to what happens if a student is named as a close contact of someone with Covid.
New National Guidance for contacts:
a) Anyone with a confirmed case of covid must self-isolate for 10 days
b) If a person under 18 (or a vaccinated adult) is identified as a close contact then they must have a negative lateral flow test every day before leaving the house, for seven days. This is different to an unvaccinated adult who would need to isolate if identified as a contact.
c) If a person develops symptoms whilst isolating or has a positive LFT result then they must isolate and book a PCR test
Existing MHS request for household contacts:
d) On top of the national guidance above, as a school we are requesting that household contacts (ie those students who live with a person with a positive PCR test) take an extra precaution before coming to school. Ideally we would like them to take a PCR test to ensure they are negative, and then carry on with daily LFTs each day before coming to school. As I have said before I cannot in any way enforce this but we believe it helps to keep transmission down.
4) Hybrid lessons and staff absences
We maintain our commitment to offering hybrid lessons to everyone who is off school due to having covid or having to self isolate. This provision can be disrupted by staff absence, which has been very high recently but is showing signs of improving. We will carry on doing our very best.
5) End of term
We have no plans to end the term early. The expectation is that lessons will continue to 12.20pm on Wednesday 22nd December
6) The new term January 2022
Term will start with one round of in-school lateral flow testing on Monday 10th and Tuesday 11th January. Further information has gone out/is coming out to all families about this later this week.
You do not need to contact us if you do not give consent for your child to attend school for the covid testing or if your child is unable to be tested due to having recently had covid. If your child does not attend the testing site in school, for whatever reason, they should log on to live lessons as normal whilst home learning is taking place.
Thanks for reading all this and thanks for all your ongoing support, we really appreciate it!